Minister Pauline Frost speaks at a rally against development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Whitehorse on August 28, where participants called on banks to say “no” to funding ANWR projects. The Royal Bank of Canada is the first Canadian bank to announce it will not fund oil and gas projects in the ANWR. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

RBC says no direct funding for oil and gas in ANWR

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is the first Canadian bank to announce it will not fund oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Due to its particular ecological and social significance and vulnerability, RBC will not provide direct financing for any project or transaction that involves exploration or development in the ANWR,” reads a statement in the bank’s “Policy Guidelines for Sensitive Sectors and Activities.”

The guidelines also include more oversight for funding of coal projects and resource development in the Arctic and no funding of projects in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“Our rights, future and the land and animals cannot be bought yet others try to sell it,” Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation told the News in August after the Trump administration announced its plan to open up oil and gas leases in the area.

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council, based in the Northwest Territories, have been campaigning for banks to boycott projects related to the development of the important cultural and ecological area.

Representatives from the campaign travelled to Toronto in December 2019 to meet with CIBC, TD, Scotiabank and RBC, and later met with BMO representatives via teleconference.

RBC is the first Canadian bank to respond with a policy.

A number of American banks, including Morgan Stanley, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have also made similar commitments.

“The pressure is now on the rest of Canada’s banks to step up, and release their own policies,” said Chris Rider, executive director of CPAWS Yukon, in a statement.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

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